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Posted by Edge767 | Jan 05, 2015 @ 12:57 PM | 1,508 Views
I've seen discussions on the forums here around skill levels, proficiency, and ability. Admittedly, these discussions didn't use the aforementioned words, but the fact remains that the discussions around those topics did take place. What is interesting to me is how many people in the hobby seem to confuse being merely functional by having the ability to put a plane in the air and bring it down more or less intact with being truly proficient at flying. What's the difference?

Functional Pilot: Can get a plane into the air without using rudder to keep the plane safe or to counter the effects of torque and/or P-Factor. Can keep directional awareness (for the most part) and can land the plane without breaking any major pieces.

Proficient Pilot: Can take off while keeping the plane on center (or imaginary center), flies safely and always keeping directional awareness while avoiding orientation issues, and can land the plane gently.

I understand the enthusiasm we have for the hobby. It's why we're all here (yes, me included). I've been flying small planes controlled remotely for over 35 years, and I still feel like a kid when I do it; excited. It's why I try to keep to checklists; my enthusiasm has caused me to forget a few things that compromised the safety of my aircraft over the years. That enthusiasm is what drives us to share videos of flights that showcase marginal ability.

What troubles me is the culture of "I shared my video, don't criticize me or you're being...Continue Reading
Posted by Edge767 | Dec 08, 2014 @ 05:27 PM | 1,926 Views
While flying my P-47D yesterday, I encountered a hung landing gear; it would not extend after retracting. I elected to land gear-up, and as the grass was still moist, the plane slid safely and did not pick up any "road rash." After taking the plane to the bench to troubleshoot the problem, I saw that the entire bottom of the wing was covered with mud and grass, and that the landing gear retract mechanism was filled with dirt. I decided to wait until the dirt dried before further working on it.

Once I got home, I found this:

It was dry and very easy to get out, as the dirt is mostly a sandy material. I used a brush to get the dirt off the wings and as much as I could from the gear mechanism, but it still looked like this.

I then used a toothbrush and used compressed air to blow the loose dirt out of the gear mechanism. After trying to cycle the gear, it was still very difficult to do so. I had to help it along to get it going the first two times. I used compressed air between cycles, both up and down, to blow out the dirt as it was becoming dislodged from inside the grub screw area. After 10 cycles, the gear worked as good as new, and even sounded like new (which it hadn't done for the past year).

...Continue Reading
Posted by Edge767 | Dec 03, 2014 @ 12:11 AM | 1,745 Views
When I ordered my decals from Callie, I unknowingly sent her squadron markings that were too small for my Mustang. I realized the error once I put them on my Mustang. I emailed her and told her my predicament and she was kind enough to send me out larger squadron markings for a very small fee (barely covered postage!).

Today, I put the markings on the plane, and I think they look great!

I plan on taking a picture with all my Callie Graphics custom planes and sending them to her as a thanks for the quality work and attention to detail. Her "Nomenclature Set" for the Mustang is a must-have for anyone planning on detailing their Mustangs properly.
Posted by Edge767 | Nov 06, 2014 @ 04:10 AM | 2,322 Views
The envelope from Callie Graphics arrived last night and I eagerly set upon transforming my "Dallas Doll" into "Gellibean," a plane named for my daughter, "Gelli" (pronounced like "Jelly.) I carefully removed the stock stickers, used the silver Sharpie to cover up where the paint lifted away with the original stickers, and then applied the Callie decals. I'm still not done as there are at least another 100 small factory stencil stickers to put on, but at this point, the plane looks as close to complete as it can.

...Continue Reading
Posted by Edge767 | Oct 24, 2014 @ 04:39 PM | 1,693 Views
I just sent the email to Callie Graphics for the new graphics set I'm going to put on my Mustang. In keeping with naming my planes after the women in my family, this one will be named for my daughter, Gelli.

The Squadron identifier "HU" corresponds with our last name, and is fictitious. The "A" corresponds to her actual first name. The name on the nose is what I called her as a little girl.

I can't wait for the decals to get here for me to put them on and get pictures to post. It's going to be a pretty and original plane!
Posted by Edge767 | Oct 12, 2014 @ 04:52 PM | 2,008 Views
When I returned to the hobby of flying small RC planes, as I wrote in an earlier post, the plane that brought me back was the Parkzone Mustang. It was a fragile beauty of a plane that had a brushed motor, NiMh batteries, and proprietary receiver and servos. As it was intended to be a park flyer, it wasn't engineered to be a hefty and durable plane. It was intended to be a plane that brought people into the hobby by allowing them to fly at their local parks or playgrounds, and the hope was that it would turn those new pilots into customers who bought bigger and better planes. Of course, what really ended up happening was that the size and ease of use of these planes brought about an entire new facet of our hobby.

Parkzone eventually began making better, more durable planes, and started using Z-Foam which was more durable, repairable, and better suited for keeping long-term. With the addition of retractable landing gear, flaps, and in some cases, droppable payload, the Park Flyer class of planes has truly come into its own, and there are many people who enjoy the ease of construction and the solid performance of these planes. I can be counted among those fans of these planes.

Last month, Horizon Hobby (parent company of Parkzone, Hobbyzone, Hangar 9, and E-Flite) released a new P-51D Mustang in the Park Flyer size, except this time, they brought the heat. While Parkzone is known for the Park Flyers, E-Flite is known for being the line that people graduate to from Parkzone...Continue Reading
Posted by Edge767 | Oct 07, 2014 @ 04:36 PM | 1,993 Views
The vast majority of my planes are RTF's or ARF's, but that doesn't stop me from making them my own. I like to customize my planes with markings, paint, or features. A look through my blog will show you my re-marked P-47D, the split flaps I put on my Spitfire, the complex flaps I put on my Me109G, the paint job I did to my Corsair and my Fw-190A-8, and even the new markings for my third-gen PZ Corsair.

Well, this won't stop with my Mustang. I really love this plane, and I finally decided on a name for it: Gelli Bean. My daughter's nickname is Gelli, and when she was a little girl, I'd call her Gelli Bean. My P-47D is named "Sherry Elisabeth" for my wife who bought it for me as an anniversary gift after she commented that all my planes had girl names but none were named after her. Although my daughter didn't buy this Mustang for me, I'd like to have a plane named after her.

The first step was the plane itself:

I then carefully took the stickers off (the paint gave away very easily and made for a very clean removal, unlike the P-47D) after which I took a silver Sharpie and colored in the are foam left after the sticker removal.

The result looks great, in my opinion!

...Continue Reading
Posted by Edge767 | Aug 29, 2014 @ 07:30 PM | 2,559 Views
I got back into the hobby in 2004 after a 14 year break. During that 14 year break, I was a Marine, got married a few times, had two great kids, and was a software engineer at Compaq and HP. After the craziness of being a Marine and having little kids evened out, I decided to take some time for myself to enjoy something I loved. That's when my wife got me a P-51D for my birthday.

I found that flying the plane was like riding a bike. I was easily able to maiden the plane and get it flying without any issues. I flew that old P-51D alot, but wanted to be able to do ROG take offs and landings, so I bought the Hobbyzone Cub (not pictured). I flew that plane so much I melted the gearbox and needed to have a replacement sent! On a trip to the LHS, I found the Super Cub and bought it immediately.

Of these old planes, only the Super Cub still flies, although in an OD green livery to look like an old L-4. I was looking through old pictures today and thought it'd be neat to post a picture of the planes that brought me back.

If you took a break and came back to the hobby like I did, what brought you back? What kind of plane was it?
Posted by Edge767 | Aug 27, 2014 @ 12:38 PM | 2,268 Views
Where we find the most enjoyment from our hobby varies from person to person. My joy is in the flying itself. Modding is fun, and I am careful in keeping records of maintenance, flying, incidents, etc, but I have to admit that doing tear downs of planes to inspect them is not my favorite part of the hobby. That's why I keep records. I am reminded every 5 hours of flight to take the plane apart and inspect parts to make sure they are holding up.

Well, a few of my planes reached that milestone recently, and I took a close look. Fortunately, things were mostly alright. Unfortunately, I found some cracks in places I didn't expect that I will be fixing soon.

The first is on my Parkzone F4U-1D Corsair (v2). Here is what it looked like when I took it off the wall:

Upon closer inspection, I was able to see that the crack went far deeper than I first thought:

Fortunately, this will be easily fixed with some epoxy. Since I have another PZ Corsair, one I converted into an F4U-5N, I decided to take a look at its vertical stabilizer. Sure enough, there was a crack there, too (the crack is below the area where paint had flaked off that looked like a crack but wasn't):

...Continue Reading
Posted by Edge767 | Aug 25, 2014 @ 06:41 PM | 2,141 Views
This past Saturday morning, I decided to take out some of my least-flown planes. I have different reasons for each plane as to why they are least-flown.

The Albatros: it's one of the visually most stunning planes I own, but its flight characteristics are not nearly as good as my WWII planes. For this reason, it doesn't see much air time. It is exceptional off of grass runways that are not as short as they need to be for my WWII planes, though, so whenever the field is long, I go to this plane.

The Me109G is a plane I built as a project and since it doesn't have retracts, I rarely fly it. It's been over three years since its last flight, so I decided to take it out. I'm glad I did. It is another great performer in grass that isn't as short as it should be.

(not pictured) The Hurricane has spent the past year in the hangar because of its trickiness on landing. It is one of the best flying planes I have, though, and possibly the fastest.

First up was the Alby. As the grass was overdue to be cut at the field, it was especially long and tricky for small foam planes to get off the ground. The Alby had no problems, though. The thin, large wheels were excellent at getting through the grass and the plane launched without any hesitation. Once in the hot air, it performed well, although loops are still very tricky with this plane. Landings were picture-perfect, and no nose-overs were experienced.

Next up was the Me109G. I gunned the throttle (something I never like...Continue Reading
Posted by Edge767 | Aug 20, 2014 @ 12:36 AM | 2,670 Views
I wrote a post sometime last year ranking the Parkzone planes in order of what I believed was their ranked based on their flying characteristics. Well, that list was made before the Fw190 was released.

At first, after having flown the P-47D for so long and being used to its flaps, landing the Fw190 was troublesome to me. I had to get out of old habits and learn this new plane appropriately: that is, on its own merits. I'm glad I did. Where I was quite unhappy with its landing characteristics at first, I eventually taught myself how to get this plane onto the ground safely and to keep it from nosing over. What was the key? Bleeding off the airspeed and learning when to flare to get nice three-point landings. I also found myself landing flaps-up a lot more with my other planes.

So where would I put the Fw190 now in the rankings with the other Parkzone planes? I'd have to say it's a very close second to my all-time favorite, the P-47D. The advantages the P-47D has over the Fw190 are the following: the wheelbase of the P-47D is wider than the Fw190 making it more stable on the ground. The Thunderbolt is a much better ground-handling plane. The second advantage the P-47D has over the Fw190 is the flaps. While I've taught myself to land the Fw190 reliably without flaps, having flaps is really nice and is yet another aspect of flying that the RC pilot can experience that is unavailable on the Fw190.

The details on the Fw190 are amazing, however, and fit/finish are definitely next-gen on the Fw190. The droppable tank (with bomb drop mechanism) is pretty neat, although I find myself only dropping the tank when kids are around. Also, the way the battery hatch secures is very solid and I prefer it to the magnets on the P-47D.

So, while the Fw190 didn't unseat the Thunderbolt as my top-rated Parkzone plane, it's very, very close and worth a look if you're looking for a solid parkflyer warbird.
Posted by Edge767 | Aug 20, 2014 @ 12:03 AM | 2,441 Views
After taking a 15 month break from RCGroups, I've returned. I know; you don't care. Fair enough.

What I didn't do, however, was stop flying. As the Chief Instructor for our local club, I've spent quite a bit of time instructing people of all ages and both sexes to fly. It's been a great year, and I am proud of all the new pilots.

Just today, I took out two oldies that haven't seen air time in a while; my Rocket Cub, and the original Parkzone Corsair. Both were champs, and it was nice to put them both back into the sky.

I'm looking forward to taking out the Hurricane again soon and getting some photos. I also look forward to posting here again. I'm still not posting in threads yet, but perhaps soon.

Oh, and that new E-Flite P-51D that is releasing in September is on my BUY list as well as the Great Planes Hawk P-6E. I am looking forward to flying both of those and posting pictures here when I do.
Posted by Edge767 | May 29, 2013 @ 12:26 PM | 5,415 Views
The weather in South East Texas during the spring is usually windy, and this year has been no different. While the early mornings can sometimes yield for some nice flying, those mornings have been few and far in between in 2013. I know, I've heard it a hundred times or more: "A good pilot can fly in anything." No truer words may have been said, however, I would like to add, "But a great pilot knows when the risk outweighs the desire for some more stick time."

Like many of us here, I've got my stories of "I really should have known better" or "As soon as I got the plane off the ground, I knew I'd made a terrible mistake." I've been more fortunate than most, having been able to bring the planes down safely and with very little or no damage. The video evidence available on Youtube will provide one with countless hours of viewing pleasure (or horror depending on your view) of literally thousands of RC pilots who decided to fly in conditions that were too much for their plane and/or their skills.

I'm not a pattern pilot, nor am I capable of the really cool 3D maneuvers that the truly dedicated pilots can perform. I fully appreciate the people who have taught themselves those skills, and I stand in silent awe when I watch these folks fly their machines in ways I can't wrap my head around. Where these folks excel in their ability to perform either the really smooth and graceful patterns or the wild and impossible-looking 3D maneuvers,...Continue Reading
Posted by Edge767 | May 20, 2013 @ 03:13 PM | 3,455 Views
This is going to be a rant. I don't do these often, but this issue has been destroying what could be great threads on the forums, and I feel I have to speak out.

I don't understand why someone feels it's necessary to go into a thread about a new plane or even a thread about a plane that's been released for a while and post derogatory remarks based on brand preference. It boggles my mind. NOT ONCE have I ever thought, "You know, I had a bad experience with Brand X. I should go into a thread where the people who bought, fly, and enjoy that plane are commenting and sharing pictures and experiences and trash the plane, the manufacturer, and by proxy, everyone who flies that plane. What a grand idea."

I struggle trying to find the motivations for persons doing so. Some of the excuses I've seen are:
  • "I've had a bad experience with this brand once, so everything I ever buy from them ever again is going to be suspect."
  • "It's a free country. I'll say what I want."
  • "I say what I feel, good or bad."
  • "Brand X is overpriced compared to Brand Y. You get so much more with Brand Y. Why would anyone ever fly Brand X?"
  • "Nice try, Brand X, but Brand Y is less expensive."

You know what? I don't care. It's just plain rude, and I'm fairly certain that the vast majority of the offenders in this area would never do such a thing in person, yet the relative anonymity of the Internet allows them to fly off the cuff and insult others...Continue Reading
Posted by Edge767 | May 19, 2013 @ 11:15 AM | 4,114 Views
I am going to preface what I have to say by stating that I'm kind of an old timer in the hobby, having been flying for over 34 years. My opinions are shaped by my experiences and by what I've been taught over the years.

So, here goes: I have no problem with my scale aircraft flying with efficient, 2-bladed props. I know that a lot of purists want 100% scale, but I prefer the efficiency and performance versus a scale looking prop. While I'm flying, I can't tell whether it's a two, three, four, or even five bladed prop. While it's in the air, it's doing what I care about most: flying. While it's on the ground, it's pretty to look at, but that's secondary to its performance and appearance in the air.

I've had all sizes of planes, from ultra-micros to big planes, and they all perform better with two-bladed props. Why? It's because of the size of air molecules. The sizes of our planes are small, scaled down versions of the real things while the air molecules that the full-size planes fly through remains the same. That's why the airfoils on our scale planes are different at the smaller sizes. That's why a two-bladed prop out-performs the three, four, and five bladed props at the smaller sizes. The "fluid" our planes are performing in is much different from the "fluid" their full-scale counterparts are flying through.

I have seen people try to argue how the four-blade prop on their plane is "just as efficient" as the two-blade, or worse, how their...Continue Reading
Posted by Edge767 | May 17, 2013 @ 08:16 PM | 7,664 Views
I get asked at the club a lot about my Parkzone warbirds. I have most (if not all) Parkzone warbirds that have been released in the past three years, and I fly them at the club field. In order, here are the Parkzone warbirds that I would recommend.

P-47D This is, without question, the best warbird turned into an RC plane ever. It's almost as if the designers at Republic thought ahead. "When radio controlled aircraft are cheap and easy to produce, this design will be perfect for scale modeling." Indeed, the P-47 hits all the right points for a great RC plane: four-channel primary control (rudder/elevator/ailerons/throttle) as well as two options that complete this "full house" warbird: flaps and retracts. With the optional flaps and retracts, this plane is one of the best performing and easiest to land warbirds I've ever flown. The wide stance of the landing gear make it a dream for ground handling, although if operating from grass, a washer on the aft screws to add a little more forward rake might be necessary to combat nose-overs. Takeoffs and landings with the P-47 are straight forward, and with little practice, ground handling is easy and stable. In flight, the plane is stable, relatively fast, and very well mannered. While not a trainer, I would consider it to be a great tailwheel and aileron trainer for those moving from a Super Cub or T-28. The one down-side would be the silver color which can blend in to overcast skies a bit too well, but on a...Continue Reading
Posted by Edge767 | May 17, 2013 @ 04:12 PM | 8,877 Views
So, I excitedly made my way to the hobby store this afternoon and picked up a new receiver; the Spektrum AS3X AR635. This is a three-axis stabilization receiver, and I'm looking forward to testing it out in a few of my planes. The first plane I will put it into will be my PZ Extra 300. I saw just how awesome this receiver was with the Visionaire that I really want to try it out in the Extra. This spring has been windy here in Texas, and it's been keeping me grounded as the winds have been regularly exceeding my safe flight and comfort threshold. With the AS3X, that should increase the wind I can fly in safely and comfortably.

I have a few AS3X planes, but they are all ultra micros. My Beast 3D actually flies better in big winds than my bigger planes, so I know the system works as advertised. I can't wait to see how it works on the bigger plane!
Posted by Edge767 | Mar 20, 2013 @ 04:14 AM | 4,123 Views
As someone who's been in the hobby for over 34 years, I've seen and heard a lot of crazy things over the years. As someone who's been around the flying field more than a time or two, I know when to disregard someone's advice as BS, but it irks me when self-designated "experts" express their opinions as gospel. It is bad for the hobby, as new members will take the bad advice and could possibly be scared off due to the problems they face.

What are some of the hallmarks of bad advice?

1. "It works for me regardless of what the other 20 people here are saying."
2. "I've flown it this way over 20 times, and not a problem!"
3. "Well, I know what works. 'Nuff said."
4. Calls people names after they disagree.
5. Ignores people after they disagree.
6. Ignores all relevant conversation after the disagreement and continues to state 1-3.
7. Posts endless videos and photos to prove how right they are and how wrong everyone else is.

What specific pieces of bad advice are out there?

1. Use bigger LiPo's without regard for ESC or motor ratings. "I do it all the time, and I've had no problems."
2. Use bigger props on motors/ESC's without matching the amp draw.
3. Making up CoG numbers or positions based off their own experience. "This is where my plane balances. I don't know why yours isn't balancing at this spot."
4. Advise taking off a foam airplane with flaps is safe and okay. "I do this all the time and...Continue Reading
Posted by Edge767 | Feb 15, 2013 @ 05:40 PM | 4,769 Views
I remember when I was first getting back into flying RC planes, I was very careful with my planes and very anal about any ding or bit of damage the planes would take through normal use. Being that all my new planes are foam, they are very easy to dent or mar, and I recall looking on RCG and seeing some planes that just looked plain ratty. I remember thinking to myself, "I won't ever let my planes get that beat up."

Well, best intentions being what they are have left me with a hangar full of planes that have some sort of hangar rash.

The latest casualty is my precious P-47. This plane sits among the other planes in my hangar at the top of the list. It's my most consistent and solid plane. I love everything about it, including it's looks. Imagine my shock and horror when I noticed after a trip to the club field that a huge mar had been pressed into the starboard wing while removing the plane from my car. Apparently, the E-Flite Hurricane's wing was rubbing against the Jug's wing, and now there's a big mark. It's big enough to notice, but in the grand scheme of things, not so bad. As I looked over the rest of the plane, I was shocked to see just how much of the wingtips and even the vertical stabilizer have been gently dented or how they've lost paint. I never noticed. At just over two years old, my poor P-47 is starting to show its age.

My Hurricane, the newest plane of the fleet, recently took on some slight "weathering" when I was forced to do...Continue Reading
Posted by Edge767 | Feb 06, 2013 @ 01:57 PM | 4,100 Views
Lots has gone on around here in the few months since I've posted last.

First and foremost, my lovely wife was the best Santa this past year and brought me something I've wanted for a long time; an E-Flite Hurricane!

Here she is as she sits on one of the tables at our club's flying field next to my Parkzone SPitfire. I brought out two of my Brits on the day I took this photo. The Hurricane is a great flying plane with amazing quality. The landings definitely keep you on your toes, but it's well worth it. I feel this plane is not only a lot of fun, but is making me a much better pilot. I like the larger size and the heavier weight. I may need more planes in this size/class.

...Continue Reading